On October 11, 2016, City Council met for a Business Meeting at 6:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers – 118 N. E. Main St.
It was a relatively short meeting for us, clocking in right at an hour. Our rules of order and decorum are really helping us be more efficient!
Mr. Graham was absent from the meeting. In his role as a firefighter, he was called, along with other first responders, to the low country to assist in post-hurricane relief efforts.
Here’s what happened:
Mr. Rodney Cummings presented on behalf of Simpsonville United Methodist Church. Topic: The annual Journey to the Manger, which takes place over 3 nights in downtown Simpsonville during the Christmas season. This event is a longstanding Simpsonville tradition; it’s been taking place for 15 years. SUMC requested Council’s permission to hold the event again this year and to be awarded the previous year’s 50% discount for police services. Mayor Curtis explained that Council always agrees to this arrangement if the Police Chief agrees. Deputy Chief Moore did not indicate this would be a problem for SPD. Ms. Braswell commented that if SUMC is given a discount, it would only be fair to give every organization needing police services for an event the same discount. Ms. Lockaby pointed out that the SUMC event is unique in that it’s a non-profit event run by a non-profit; whereas most other events requiring police services are for-profit. Mr. Dyrhaug confirmed the accuracy of this point. Motion: allow the Journey to the Manger event as presented by Mr. R. Cummings with the 50% discount of police services carried. Motion carried.
Next up, Council was provided with the Audit Presentation for FY 2015-2016 from Greene, Finney & Horton, LLP. An e-copy of the audit is available online for anyone interested. Some highlights:
- We received what’s called an “unmodified opinion,” which is the best you can get.
- The General Fund balance increased approximately $2.5 million.
- We received the GFOA Award for Excellence in Financial Reporting.
- We cannot expect revenues to stay up. In the words of the accountant, “good times don’t last forever.” He explained a recession occurs about every 6-7 years, so we’re due on in the near future, and we must prepare for that.
- One recommendation: adopt a formal fraud risk management policy.
Ms. Braswell moved Council direct City Administrator David Dyrhaug develop a fraud risk management policy. Motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Linda Franklin spoke on the need for sidewalks to be required for new developments.
In a belated point of order, Ms. Lockaby pointed out that per our ordinance, citizens are required to sign up to speak ten minutes prior to the start of the meeting. She also pointed out the Ms. Franklin had signed up at about 6:22 PM (meetings start at 6:30). To paraphrase Ms. Lockaby, “if we have to follow the rules up here, they have to follow them down there.” She noted that she has no problem with citizens speaking at meetings as long as the rules are followed. Given Ms. Lockaby raised her concern after Ms. Franklin had already spoken, there was nothing for the Mayor to take action on. The meeting continued.
Next Council heard Items Referred by the Planning Commission as follows:
- 2nd Reading of AXZ-2016-04, Portion of Tax Map #0566.01-01-002.07 (next to 700 Fairview Road). Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed. (See previous business meeting recap for more info on this).
- 2nd Reading of AXZ-2016-05, Portion of Tax Map #0574.03-01-022.00 (along Barker Road). Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed. (See previous business meeting recap for more info on this).
- 2nd Reading of AXZ-2016-06, Portion of Tax Map #0574.03-01-011.01 (824 Neely Ferry Road). (See previous business meeting recap for more info on this). On this item, I asked for Mr. Knudson (City Planner) to confirm for me once more that the developer of this property would be required to install sidewalks. He and I had previously discussed this. He confirmed once more that the sidewalks will be installed. Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed.
Next, Council heard Items Referred by the Committee of the Whole
- 2nd Reading of Ordinance #2016-08, Amendment to Section 6-81, Definition for Animal Control Officer. Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed. This change simply updates our ordinance to reflect that the Animal Control Officer is not necessarily under the purview of the Public Works Director (currently our Animal Control Officer works in the Police Department). The purpose of this change was to have the ordinance match what we’re actually doing in practice.
- 2nd Reading of Ordinance #2016-09, General Bond Ordinance (Sewer System Revenue Bond). Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed. (See previous business meeting recap for more info on this).
- 2nd Reading of Ordinance #2016-10, 2016 Series Ordinance (Sewer System Revenue Bond). Motion to approve on 2nd reading passed. (See previous business meeting recap for more info on this).
- Resolution #2016-04, Department Head Recruitment and Selection Process. Motion to adopt resolution passed.
- Police Department Recruitment and Retention Strategies. I introduced this item at the previous Committee of the Whole meeting with the following memo:
Police departments across the country face an increasingly difficult problem: retaining and recruiting officers to a challenging and often underpaid profession.
Simpsonville, certainly, is not immune to this problem, a problem that does not have a simple solution. Thus, we need to begin investigating possible solutions sooner rather than later, so that when we begin the budgeting process next year, we are prepared to consider how best to approach recruitment and retention and choose incentive strategies/programs that work for us.
Motion: I move that the Committee of the Whole recommend Council charge the City Administrator with researching options for effective police recruitment and retention strategies/programs and make recommendations to Council by the first budget meeting of 2017.
A vote in favor of this motion moves it to the October Business Meeting for a vote by full Council.
At the Committee of the Whole Meeting, several members spoke in favor of this motion. It passed to the Business meeting by a vote of 6-1, with Councilman Graham voting no.
After briefly forgetting that I needed to make the motion again for the Business Meeting (awkward silence), I did: I move that City Council charge the City Administrator with researching options for effective police recruitment and retention strategies/programs and make recommendations to Council by the first budget meeting of 2017. This time the motion passed 6-0 (Councilman Graham absent).
You can read more about this and why it’s important in this Greenville News article.
- Amphitheatre Workshop. This motion was brought forward by Mayor Curtis at the previous Committee of the Whole Meeting. The motion asks for a workshop with TRZ Management, Interim Police Chief Moore, Council, the City Administrator, the City Attorney, and Sho Pro Security. TRZ Management requested the meeting to make Council aware of the challenges they have faced regarding security at recent functions at the Amphitheatre. Ms. Braswell indicated she did not think a workshop meeting was necessary, that TRZ should be able to manage its own contractors without such a meeting. Mayor Curtis countered that the workshop was requested so that Council and relevant City staff would be aware of the challenges. The motion passed 5-1, with Ms. Braswell voting no.
The meeting was adjourned.